If Oprah can have her own television network, so can Ryan Seacrest.
He, along with events promoter AEG and talent agency Creative Artists Agency (CAA) are partnering with billionaire Mark Cuban to essentially take over his existing network HDNet. The new network will be called AXS TV (pronounced "access") and will be a pop culture and music cable channel that is expected to debut in June.
Reports are that the network's programming will rely heavily on live lifestyle and live entertainment content from the music assets of AEG, and the "A-list connections and production capabilities of Seacrest." Cuban will still lead the venture.
The Hollywood Reporter suggests that the venture is “virtually” a 50-50 partnership between Cuban and the new partners.
Seacrest, CAA and AEG have been pitching the network concept for some time. At one point there were reports that the group was in talks to take over VH1 Soul, a little-watched spinoff of MTV Networks' VH1 channel.
HDNet has been around for about a decade, and is currently in a reported 25-35 million homes, through distribution deals with DirecTV, Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, Charter and Dish. Those numbers are still small, with the big cable networks in 100 million+ homes.
Seacrest’s shingle, Ryan Seacrest Productions (which produces the ubiquitous Khardasian franchise among other projects), will have a production commitment with the new venture. Ryan Seacrest Media, a holding company separate from RSP, is the investor in AXS.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter last spring, Seacrest insisted whatever deal he and his partners at CAA and AEG struck, it “will not be the Ryan Seacrest channel … it will not be branded with my name or my face. My role would be to hope to provide content for them, but primarily it would be an ownership role.”
Source: AXS.tv press announcement